• Headteacher 1

Headteachers' Blog

30th October 2017


Welcome back! We hope that all families had a restful and relaxing half term break, and return ready for the challenges of the coming half term and the run up to Christmas.

This country needs a view on the purpose of education

In 2016 the Education Select Committee set up an inquiry into the purpose of education - www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/education-committee/inquiries/parliament-2015/purpose-quality-education-england-15-16. Many educationalists hoped that this would provide a guiding vision, and a set of values and principles, that would inform the future of education as we motor through the first quarter of the 21st century. Unfortunately, it did not materialise and, as a result, we have a steady stream of kneejerk policies that attempt to solve a problem more or less identified the day before.

The latest of these was reported on during the week before the half term break. The new report stated that the national curriculum should incorporate physical activity into traditional classroom learning, and that all early-years and primary teachers and leaders be trained to enable and deliver learning during playtime. In response to this report it appears that A Fit and Healthy Childhood all-party parliamentary group has demanded a comprehensive review of the role that physical activity takes in the fight against obesity. The group also calls for sedentary and screen-based activities to be limited and recommends activities that involve standing up and moving around the classroom.

None of the above we would disagree with, but the direction of travel has been very much about teachers and schools being encouraged to deliver more and more ‘traditional’ subjects, with a significantly greater content, in ‘traditional’ ways in order to raise standards. Learning has become sedentary. Amongst other things, this has: made the practical component of several subjects much smaller (e.g. GCSE PE was 60% practical and 40% theory, but have been flipped), reduced timetable allocations to physical education, shortened break times and increased the potential for screen time. Boy, do we need those set of principles.

Good news

 

blog1  blog2

Just before half term, we unveiled our new memorial to 2Lt Tommy George RFC, who passed away in Queen Mary’s Hospital on our school site after a local flying accident a hundred years ago. We have been trying to make contact with relatives of the family, and we were absolutely delighted to be put in touch with Tommy’s great-nephew Andrew. He kindly sent a photo showing Tommy (on the left) with his Sopwith Pup, and writes:

“What a wonderful surprise to see this message. Of course I know all about my Great Uncle Tommy and his fatal accident, whilst doing aerobatics I believe. At least that's what my Father recalls, whom I've just spoken with. I've forwarded him your message and he'll look for some photos of Tommy, which he's sure he has.

Please pass on our thanks to those at Stanley Park High. It's wonderful to have Tommy remembered in this way and all those who served in the RFC, including of course my Grand Father who as you probably know served through to the end of the Great War and beyond with the RAF.”

All additional information about Tommy is very welcome. We are sure that his memorial will become a focus for school projects and our annual Remembrance assemblies in years to come.

Learning Review Week

This week we encourage all parents and carers to join in Parents’ Learning Review Week. Students in Years 7, 8 and 13 will be bringing home their learning in exercise books and folders to share with you. Some students will be able to share work which has been set on Google Docs, our new pilot system, if their teacher is an early adopter of this route. Year 13 students should also be able to share classwork and homework, and evidence of independent study.

In order to support your review we politely suggest you focus on the following:

  • WWW and EBI. These are written by the teacher and describe ‘What Went Well’ and ‘Even Better If’.
  • Use of the Green Pen. This shows your child’s response to these comments, particularly the EBI.
  • Quality of presentation. Think about the appearance of your child’s learning and whether they are presenting it to the best of their ability.

Afterwards, please add your signature to the book sticker, to show that you have taken part. Comments are welcome in the space provided. Please remember that your comments will stay in your child’s book, so aim to write something that is kind, specific and helpful.

Parents of students within Ignis, one of our two ASD bases, will be invited to review the learning of their child using an alternative format.  Parents will be invited to participate within a learning activity so they can experience the full breadth of their child’s learning opportunities.  Further detail, including specific dates and times, will be shared with invited parents this week via email.

Thanks to all parents and carers for your support.

Bus Travel Concerns

We recognise that some of our students have a long wait for buses at the end of the school day, and on 11 September we wrote about this in our blog. Our concern is that insufficient buses are scheduled at the peak after school period, 3.20pm to 3.45pm, and those buses which arrive are already full with children from other schools along the route. The inadequate service leads to crowded pavements and delays for students and other bus passengers, and we thank a number of people who have contacted us to raise this issue.

We believe that the safety of our students is paramount, and we also recognise that this does affect home life, causing worries for parents. Since out last report we have been actively following up the authorities to try to reach a solution, and we thought it would be a good idea to share our progress with you.

We have been visited by Mr Garside, the LA’s nominated Senior Travel Planner who has heard our concerns. In the space of one month, starting on 18 September, we have written no less than eight letters to various authorities, including the Mr Gashi the Manager of Sutton Bus Garage, Mr Russell the General Manager and Ms Hodgkinson, the Network Planning Manager at Go-Ahead London, who have all responded sympathetically. We wrote to our local MP Tom Brake and are awaiting a reply. We have also contacted Transport for London, whom we believe is the only authority able to implement the additional services we are asking for, and we await a response.

If you are concerned about your son or daughter’s travel home from school as the evenings grow darker, please do use the contact information and the link below to express your concerns and add weight to our campaign to run additional services on the 154 bus route from our local stops between 3.20pm and 3.45pm. We are confident that with the growing support for this cause we can improve matters. Thank you for your support.

Transport for London Complaints

tfl.gov.uk/help-and-contact/contact-us-about-buses

Paul Garside
Senior Travel Planner
Highways and Transport
Kingston and Sutton Shared Environment Service
London Borough of Sutton
24 Denmark Road Carshalton Surrey SM5 2JG
paul.garside@sutton.gov.uk

Supporting our new students

It is hard enough to change schools during your secondary school career, but those with little or no English language skills find the transition doubly difficult. For this reason we have established a new group to help and support our EAL (English as an Additional Language) students, called 'HOME'.

They meet as a group during most Friday tutor times in the LRC.  The 'HOME' group will focus on strengthening friendships and improving language, through conversation, games and books etc. Plenty of encouragement makes it easier for them to have the confidence to come along.

A group of students have volunteered to support this initiative, a generous and kind gesture which will make a significant difference to the success of the project.

Year 11 Parents’ Information Evening – Thurs 2nd November 6.00pm to 6.30pm

This Thursday, from 6.00pm to 6.30pm, we look forward to seeing Year 11 families at our Parents’ Information Evening. This will be an opportunity to find out how you can best prepare your child for the exam season and help them to do their best. We recognise that support from parents and carers makes a significant difference to the success of young people, and we hope that you will be able to join us.

Post 16 Open Evening Tuesday 7th November

SPH-P16-Open-Evening-Advert-2017-v1-(slate)-web

Our Post 16 Open Evening takes place next Tuesday 7th November, from 6.00pm to 8.00pm. All students in Year 11 and their parents are strongly encouraged to attend.

Our programmes of study will be described in two presentations during the evening. These will be held in Spotlight, our state-of-the-art performance hall, at 6:30pm and 7:00pm.

The evening includes opportunities to:

  • tour our fantastic facilities
  • absorb the atmosphere of the school
  • meet some of our current Post 16 students
  • talk to subject leaders about the demands of our extensive range of A-Levels and Level 2 and 3 vocational subjects we offer.

You will also discover a range of initiatives, unique to Stanley Park High, which support all our Post 16 students.

Stanley Park High Post 16 is diverse, friendly and welcoming. Each year an increasing number of students choose to join us. We work hard to make sure that all students quickly feel at home, and settle into life at the school. We have recently welcomed our largest ever cohort in Year 12. We hope that you will be able to join us.

If you are unable to attend and would like more information, please see the Post 16 section of the website for more information, or contact Miss Patel, Head of Post 16, by email dpatel28@suttonmail.org

Words of the Week

Every two weeks, the school focuses on new words which broaden the vocabulary. This week…

The literacy word of the week is Pertinent, and the numeracy word of the week is Factorise

16th October 2017


Settling in

Our Year 7s and new Year 12s have reached the end of their first half term with us. We are delighted to see them so happy and settled, and well on the way to becoming fully fledged “Stanley Parkers”. Positive relationships – with each other and with staff – are at the heart of our school ethos and this is particularly important when students start a new school. Pivotal to our new students’ successful transition is their relationship with their form tutor, who will remain with them for their first two years. If you have any questions or concerns regarding your child, do not hesitate to get in touch with his or her tutor. Contact information can be found in the Staff Directory section our website.

Commemoration – 2nd Lieutenant Thomas William George – Royal Flying Corps (RFC)

On Wednesday we will be holding an assembly in memory of Tommy George who died on 18th October 1917 in Queen Mary's Hospital which was situated on our school site.

Tommy had been an Observer in 34 Squadron in the RFC and had served on the Western Front in 1916. The following year he was training to be a pilot with No: 40 Training Squadron at Plough Lane Airfield, Wallington.  He died as a result of injuries sustained in an accident while flying a Sopwith Pup A650 on 18 October 1917 when the aeroplane broke up in the air.

blog1

We will also be unveiling our commemorative memorial. The assembly will include the completion of our garden feature based on a roundel, and the unveiling of an information display stand about Tommy. This will contain a copy of a letter sent by Tommy to his brother, Robert, who was on active service in France. The letter was written less than four weeks before he died. We shall also plant a maple tree in Tommy’s memory; although Tommy was Scottish, he served in the Canadian Regiment. Students in Year 8 will be participating in the assembly, as will our horticulture students who made this wonderful tribute to Tommy.

blog2

We are trying to find out more about Tommy and we are particularly keen to make his living relatives aware of our tribute. We would welcome any help with this. As a starting point, we think Robert became Air Vice-Marshall and Governor of South Australia. Please contact Mrs Stocks, my PA, if you can find out any information - dstocks@suttonmail.org.

Provisional League Table

Last Thursday the DfE released the provisional Performance Data for all secondary schools. The key feature of this data is the overall Progress 8 score, the new government measure of progress, introduced in 2016.

While we recognise that the move to Progress 8 was an attempt to improve how schools judged, it has several major weaknesses. Firstly, and as described in the following article, the way in which P8 is calculated favours selective schools - schoolsweek.co.uk/numeric-gcse-grades-system-harming-progress-8-and-attainment-8. Secondly, and most importantly in our case, it rewards schools that are compliant i.e. those that force their students to take certain subjects - mostly EBacc - to fill ‘buckets’ (categories). Unfortunately, because of the increasing pressure on school leaders more schools have chosen this path in 2016-2017, driving up averages and making it harder for the few schools that don't.

At Stanley Park High we remain absolutely committed to our philosophy of choice and equal value, and we will not insist our children take a subject for the sake of our position in league tables or to please Ofsted. Consequently, 70 of our 203 students did not take examinations in subjects that enabled them to fill their ‘buckets’, considerably more than in 2016. This had a significant impact on our Progress 8 score.

Thirdly, it does not reward schools that are inclusive. This is partially about us having two Opportunity Bases for Autism - we are the only school in England to have such a provision - but it is also about the fact that we did not remove students from our roll to boost our overall performance in our league tables. According to a number of recent reports in the media, this is an increasing problem. In addition, our last cohort had many students that joined us from other schools during the course of their secondary education, many after the start of GCSE courses. They all count in our P8 score, even though many spent more of their secondary education in another school.

Only last year the school was named Secondary of the Year by the TES, who said “Stanley Park High has achieved remarkable outcomes for its student body by focusing on igniting their passion for learning.  At a time of huge pressure on schools, Stanley Park High made it obvious that the welfare and wellbeing of the children comes above anything else.”

As you would expect, we are currently interrogating our data. Undoubtedly, the P8 measure doesn’t favour our approach; but we fully recognise that we can't blame it all on the system. We always seek to improve what we do, but we will not do so by abandoning our values. Exam outcomes are vitally important, but so are other outcomes, highlighted by the TES, that no performance table could ever measure.

Thank you very much for supporting the path we have chosen, and to the many parents that took to social media last week to support the school and our values. Please note the final league tables will be published in January. These will include a significant number of upgrades as a result of appeals against inaccurate examination script marking in a number of subjects.

Year 11 and 13 Mock Exams – Dates finalised

Mock Exams – also known as Pre Public Exams (PPE) - will be held for Years 11 and 13 on a number of occasions throughout this academic year. The main period of mocks for Year 11 will take place between 5th and 20th December. Study Leave will be available to students from Monday 11th December, although students will still be able to access lessons should they wish to do so after this date. Further information will be distributed about this at the end of November.

Additional periods of mocks will take place for Year 11 from Wednesday 7th to Friday 9th February and on the 22ndand 23rd March. Please note that although Friday 9th February is a scheduled Inset Day, exams will continue on that day.

In order to help our Year 11 students prepare for these exams a study skills session, led by an external provider, will take place on Friday 17th November.

Year 13 mocks will take place between 5th and 9th February.

Timetables for the Year 11 December mocks and the Year 11/13 February mocks can be found on our website.

www.stanleyparkhigh.org.uk/44/exam-information

Year 10/11/12/13 Final External Exams

The following Final External Exams - BTEC – will take place on the following dates:

  • 10th November - Retail (on-screen) Yr12
  • 7th December - Sport (on-screen) Yr11
  • 9th January - Construction Technology Yr11
  • 9th January - Digital Media Sectors and Audiences (Creative Media) Yr10 and 11
  • 10th January - Patterns of Child Development Yr11
  • 10th January - Human Lifespan Development (Health and Social Care) Yr12 & 13
  • 11th January - The UK Travel and Tourism Sector Yr10 and 12
  • 11th January - The Role and Work of the Public Services Yr12
  • 12th January - Working in Health and Social Care Yr12 and 13
  • 12th January - Hair and Beauty Yr11
  • 17th January - Personal and Business Finance Yr13
  • 25th January - Information Technology Systems Yr13

Year 11 Parents’ Information Evening – Thurs 2nd November 6.00pm to 6.30pm

We warmly welcome Year 11 families to our Parents’ Information Evening which will take place on Thursday 2nd November from 6.00pm to 6.30pm. This will be an opportunity to find out how you can best prepare your child for the exam season and help them to do their best.

Please add this date to your diary, and come along to discover more.

Post 16 Open Evening Tuesday 7th November

We look forward to welcoming parents and students from Year 11 once again for our Post 16 Open Evening on Tuesday 7th November, 6.00pm – 8.00pm. All students in Year 11 and their parents are strongly encouraged to attend.

Our curriculum provides programmes of study which are matched to student needs and aspirations. Along with the new A Level and BTEC National Reforms, these will be described in detail in two presentations during the evening. These will be held in Spotlight, our state-of-the-art performance hall, at 6:30pm and 7:00pm. There will be an opportunity for visitors to:

  • tour our fantastic facilities
  • absorb the atmosphere of the school
  • meet some of our current Post 16 students
  • talk to subject leaders about the demands of our extensive range of A-Levels and Level 2 and 3 vocational subjects we offer.

You will find Stanley Park High Post 16 to be diverse, friendly and welcoming. Each year an increasing number of students choose to join us. We work hard to make sure that all students quickly feel at home, and settle into life at the school. We have recently welcomed our largest ever cohort in Year 12.

You will also discover a range of initiatives, unique to Stanley Park High, which support all our Post 16 students. We look forward to meeting you on the evening.

If you were unable to attend and would like more information, please see the Post 16 section of the website for more information, or contact Miss Patel, Head of Post 16, by email dpatel28@suttonmail.org

Learning Review Week

The week following half term, starting on Monday 30 October, will be Learning Review Week for students in Years 7, 8 and 13. We would encourage all parents to be ready for this, expecting to see learning that their child has brought home to share. More information will be provided in the Blog straight after half term.

Lost Property

If your child has lost any clothing, footwear or equipment, please ask them to come along at break time or lunchtimes to the LRC. All our lost property will be ready to be reunited with owners. Please make sure your child’s possessions are clearly marked with their name, which helps us to return items quickly.

Half Term

We wish all families a very happy half term next week, Monday 23 to Friday 27 October, and look forward to seeing all students back in school at the usual time on Monday 30 October.

Words of the Week

Every two weeks, the school focuses on new words which broaden the vocabulary. This week…

The literacy word of the week is Pertinent, and the numeracy word of the week is Factorise

9th October 2017


Continuing to put students first...

blog1

We get many visitors from across the globe coming to see what we do at Stanley Park High. Why do they come so far to see us? Last week we received visitors from Australia, New Zealand and Germany as part of the SCIL (Sydney Centre for Innovation and Learning) study tour. It is the second time that they have visited us as part of this pan –European tour in the last few years. We also had a visit from a Headteacher who has been given the responsibility of setting up a new secondary school in England for September 2018, and we will be receiving political figures from the Isle of Man during the upcoming half term break that are embarking on a similar journey. All of these visitors are involved in doing something different.They are breaking the mould; they are taking a path less well trodden.They are, like us, reimagining schooling away from what we collectively perceived to be the ‘sausage factory’ approach.

blog2

During the many conversations last week we highlighted the importance of us continuing to put students first. It seems a ridiculous thing to need to discuss, but we all lamented how current educational policies in many developed countries are setting up conflict between the interests of children and the interests of schools. Undoubtedly, the pressure of performance league tables is driving some schools to be pragmatic and choose the latter.

One major consequence of this, I believe, is that schools have become less inclusive. Over the summer one school hit the headlines because it asked Post 16 students to leave because, whilst they were on track to pass their A Levels, they were not likely to get the target grade their results at GCSE suggested they should attain.There is also considerable evidence of schools offloading students, often in the upper secondary years, in order to improve their league table position. Rather than offloading, we have historically been a net importer of students. For example, 29 (14%) of the 203 students that were on roll at the end of last year’s Year 11 joined us as ‘mid-terms’ i.e. after the start of year 7, 13 (6%) of which were after the start of their GCSE courses.

We are proud of the fact that we are an inclusive community school and that we have welcomed these students to our community. We also celebrate the fact that our Opportunity Bases for Autism enrich our community and continue to excel, and not just in the ‘sausage factory’ sense. We have chosen a different, more challenging, and yet more rewarding path.

Year 9 Photographs – Tuesday 10th October

On Tuesday the photographer will be in school to photograph all our Year 9 students. We are sure that parents will check that their child arrives in full, smart school uniform. A sample photo will be sent home with your child, together with details about ordering.

E Safety Training for Parents - Monday 4th December

We are pleased to welcome back Stephen Welding, the borough’s E Safety officer, who will present a talk on E Safety for Parents on Monday 4th December at 6.00pm. The event is expected to last an hour. Stephen has visited us before and his talk is informative and relevant. Parents and carers from all year groups are welcome and we are sure you will find this event useful. More information will be provided in due course but in the meanwhile please add the date to your diary.

Half Term

There are just two weeks until half term, and the school will finish on Friday 20th October for the week break. All students should be back in school on Monday 30th October at the usual time.

Words of the Week

Every two weeks, the school focuses on new words which broaden the vocabulary. This week…

The literacy word of the week is Conspicuous, and the numeracy word of the week is Enlargement.

2nd October 2017


Exams – pressures on students and schools continue to rise

Over the last couple of weeks all secondary schools will have been reviewing this summer’s examination results, with several meetings taking place between headteachers and subject leaders. Whilst it is very important to reflect, it is also about looking forward, making changes and doing all we can to give future cohorts the best possible chance of success.

During these meetings, subject leaders will have described the greater content in the new GCSEs/A Levels and the increased difficulty of the subject matter. At GCSE level, English Language, English Literature and Maths were examined against these higher standards this year. Another 20 subjects will join them next June, and more in 2019. Following the very disappointing removal of coursework, and the worrying decision to reduce the value of the practical component of many subjects, many leaders expressed concern about the increasing reliance on terminal examinations. It is a concern shared by the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) who recently stated that a student taking a typical set of the new GCSEs will spend over eight extra hours sitting exams compared to the old system.

It doesn’t end there. We have recently been informed that we are required to take part in the National Reference Tests (NRT) which means that 60 of our students will be required to sit another exam in February or March, 30 in English and 30 in Maths.

The NRT is designed to ensure that national standards in examinations are maintained. We would not disagree with the importance of this; however, everything could be undermined if examinations are not marked properly. More exams mean more scripts to mark in a restricted period of time and, if this summer is anything to go by, there will be a greater number of mistakes. In one subject alone we have asked for 24 remarks, of which 21 have come back. 14 (66%) resulted in a change of mark and 8 resulted in a change of grade….all up! It is not difficult to see the impact of these mistakes, with students requiring certain grades to access Post 16 courses.

We have frequently raised concern about the pressure on our young people. I am sorry to say that these changes are likely to add to it. They also have an impact on other areas of school life.  A key resource, the Sports Hall, is out of action for an extended period of time this year because it is required for these examinations.

We would wish to reassure parents that we will do all we can to prepare our students for the changes, and ensure their wellbeing. This includes a programme of targeted support sessions that started last week. These are specific to certain students and take place at lunchtime and after school. We will be publishing details of all the exams - mock and actual - for students in years 11 and 13 in the Blog on Monday 16th October. We know that parents have a key role to play, which is why we will be providing details of important events in the same Blog.

Visitors from Australia

Today we are delighted to welcome back colleagues from SCIL in Australia, who are participating in a Study Skills Tour. They will be learning about our curriculum and gathering useful ideas to transplant to schools on the other side of the world. Information about their focus can be found by clicking on the link below. We hope that they enjoy their time with us.

scil.com.au/vision-tour/

Year 7 Parents’ Information Evening on Tuesday 3rd October - 5:30 to 7:30pm

We look forward to seeing parents of students in Year 7 for our Information Evening this Tuesday. This is an opportunity to meet with your child’s tutor to discuss their transition into Stanley Park High. Information about how to book an appointment has been emailed to all parents and slots are filling up fast.

During the evening we are also encouraging parents to attend sessions on how to support your child’s learning. These will run at the following times:

5:40pm – 6:00pm EFC – A parent’s guide
6:00pm – 6:10pm How can I support my child’s learning?
6:20pm – 6:40pm EFC – A parent’s guide
6:40pm – 6:50pm How can I support my child’s learning?
7:00pm – 7:20pm EFC – A parent’s guide
7:20pm – 7:30pm How can I support my child’s learning?


Please join in with the most convenient sessions.

We recognise the importance of a strong home/school partnership, and we hope that parents will find these sessions a helpful way to familiarise themselves with the challenges and opportunities that students in Year 7 have ahead for the coming year.

Intensive Day – Thursday 5th October

Next Thursday is Intensive Day, and we will be following a condensed timetable:

Period 1            08:30 – 09:10am
Period 2            09:10 – 09:50am
Period 3            09:50 – 10:30am
Break               10:30 – 10:50am
Period 4            10:50 – 11:30am
Period 5            11:30 – 12:10pm
There will be no Period 6 and all students will be dismissed at 12.10pm.

The time created in the afternoon will be used to deliver compulsory training on assessment and target setting to all teaching staff.

Inset day - Friday 6th October

On this day the school will be closed to all students. Information appeared in last week’s blog, when we shared our plans.

Post 16 plans for our Year 11

Year 11 students are considering career options and which sixth form or college they will attend next year. Each student will attend a careers appointment to help them in this important choice. We hope that many will choose to remain at Stanley Park High, in our successful Post 16 programme.

A Parents’ Information Evening for Year 11 families will take place on Thursday 2 November from 6.00pm to 6.30pm. Please add this date to your diary, and come along to discover more about the opportunities open.

Concern over London Borough of Sutton Autism cuts

Concern has been expressed in local media about funding cuts which are affecting Sutton Education Services. This group, which helps promote inclusion and supports families is about to shrink from four members of staff to 1.9.

We are fully aware of the budgetary constraints on the Local Authority, but share the concern raised by Sutton Parents’ Forum, the National Autistic Society and the National Union of Teachers about the effect this will have on services for families, particularly those which include a child with autism. Referral and support services are deteriorating, and this missed opportunity to offer early support is having a real impact upon the lives of those involved. The loss of this provision is damaging, and we hope that parents will be willing to raise this issue with local councillors.

Display Help

A large scale display is planned in school about the development of media over time. We hope this will include some of the items listed below.

  • Old radio, transistor, records (78s, 45s single, LPs ) reel to reel tape recorders, portable cassette tapes/ tape recorders, walkman, CD,  iPod, smartphone.
  • 35mm film, old cameras, video cassette, laser disk.
  • floppy disc, hard disc, USB stick, old game consoles/controllers, game boy.

If you are able to lend or donate any items to our display, please contact Mrs D Stocks, PA to the Headteachers dstocks@suttonmail.org. We would be very grateful to receive contributions.

Words of the Week

Every two weeks, the school focuses on new words which broaden the vocabulary. This week…

The literacy word of the week is Conspicuous, and the numeracy word of the week is Enlargement.